This isn't my typical sort of post.
I usually begin with a daily life story of sorts that sparked some sort of spiritual stirring or revelation. But not today.
I enjoy sharing cute stories of my kiddos (or dog) and then weaving in a faith correlation. But that's not this post.
No, this post comes with a bit of weight.
You see, I LOVE the Olympics. Always have. And this year, they couldn't have come at a better time as my husband and I are currently in a “show hole”. If I've already watched the latest episode of “This is Us” (and bawled my eyes out) and there are no new Brian Regan comedic specials (if you like to laugh, look him up – the cleanest, laugh out loud comedian I've ever listened to), the television is usually nothing but a waste of space for us in the evening hours. But with the Olympics! Oh, the glorious stories of triumph, defeat, everyday people overcoming amazing challenges, making unbelievable sacrifices. What a great way to end the day.
Until 10:30pm rolled around.
Now I'm not typically a news watcher. I signed off on that long ago. Call it avoidance or call it smart, I just don't. Over the years I've become increasingly more wary of the news – not only the negativity that it often brings with it but also the opinions being presented by those reporting it. Not to mention that I am married to a man who listens to talk radio pretty much nonstop on his hour plus commute to and from work each day and then sometime proceeds to turn it on in our kitchen upon his arrival home. So yeah, I know what I feel I need to know and I am a firm believer in knowing your own “mental limits” and protecting your mind. For me, watching the nightly news does not put me in a mentally healthy place.
But not these past few weeks. With the promise of more Olympics after enduring the report on current events, most nights I waited it out.
And we all know what happened during that period of time in Parkland, Florida.
And we all know the lines in the sand that have once again been drawn as a result.
But it's not just Parkland and it's not just the news.
The amount of political unrest, the general lack of hope, the dissension between race and color, the pushing of alternative lifestyles, the sinfulness surrounding us is getting to be too great to bear.
We listen to a heart-wrenching story about a bobsled driver who was arguably at the top of his game when he was found dead in his room, a combination of an excess of alcohol and sleeping pills found in his system.
We watch figure skating with my children and have to explain to my daughters why a man is dressed to the nines like a woman.
We cheer for an American who finishes his snowboard run and then is greeted, not by the stars and stripes, but by rainbow flags and a kiss from his boyfriend and my children look at me confused.
And I try to explain – as much to myself as to my children – that each of these people are loved by God. That Jesus died to save each one of their souls. But that, unfortunately, not everyone believes that.
After tucking my children into bed, my husband and I settle on the couch to watch the remainder of the games for the evening and soon after, the news begins (is it 10:30 already?). A history of the Florida shooter's mental health issues flashes across the screen. Some try to convince others that perhaps it would've been better if this boy had been aborted rather than adopted (wha??!?). The anchor explains a planned school “walk out” which is to display frustration with a lack of action on gun laws. The Russian curling team's medal is taken away after tests showed evidence of more doping. More “sexual misconduct” stories emerge from Hollywood. A male figure skating competitor is said to have “stolen the hearts of America” with his heroic tale of being openly gay. The North Korean cheerleaders are revealed to be called the “Pleasure Squad” by some insiders due to countless detestable forced sexual encounters. “The View” strikes once again as one of the co-hosts labels believing Jesus speaks to you as “mental illness.”
And my heart breaks.
And my mind races.
And my feet want to get up and do something about it. All of it.
And the Devil tells me that I can't. He tells me that it's useless to even care. He tells me that with all of the evil out there, why should I feel such opposition to a man just wanting to love another man?
And I feel like there is a war: an “us” and a “them”.
And there is. But it's not between people. It is between God and all that is good and the Devil and all that is contrary to what God says.
And with a look of desperation, I say to my husband, “What is the solution to all of this??”
Where do we find this line in the sand? Where do we find the perfect balance between love for all of God's people but firmness in sticking to what He tells us in His Word is right? Why are we told that someone should be praised for openly living an alternative lifestyle but someone else should be ridiculed for claiming that Jesus speaks to them? How can there be so many sides to take in a clear act of violence which we can all agree is wrong regardless of what you feel the motive was or whether or not it is right to own a firearm? Why can't someone simply compete for his or her country and not make it about a lifestyle decision or political platform?
And my husband looks back it me and he says, “We both know what it is. Everyone needs Jesus.”
I'm not trying to over-simplify it. The world we live in is complicated. And so are the issues. But the overall answer is simple. Yet oh-so hard for so many to believe.
But here is what I know:
1. God is still in control and always will be.
2. God loves ALL people -- even those who don't love Him back or believe that He exists -- and He commands that we do the same.
3. Loving all people and condoning their lifestyles or actions is not the same thing.
4. We should never ever EVER stop praying.
The Olympics have in no way, shape or form, made me into a “news watcher”. But they have reminded me of just how much the unbelieving world needs us as Christians. So reach out to those walking in darkness in whatever way you can and pray for them. Remember that they aren't "the bad guys" -- we are all fallen sinners in need of a Savior. Remember that Jesus loved them first. And remember that He is not finished with any of us just yet.